A Spin Down Equality Lane
We (which is to say those of us who follow bowling) are witnessing a Disney couple of months on the PBA Tour. First Tom Smallwood, a part-time semi-pro at best, won December's World Championships a year after being laid off by GM. Then, hours before Adrian Peterson forgot how to hold a football, Kelly Kulick had her way with the circuit's Tournament of Champions. That made her the first female to ever win a PBA Tour title, and made the fellow she beat in the finals, Chris Barnes, an answer to a Trivial Pursuit question unlikely to make it to print.
Unless you closely monitor the bowling world—and really, who does?—it's impossible to know what impact Kulick's win will have on the sport. But it'll be interesting to see what her win does for the can-women-hang-with-the-boys debate that surfaces whenever a gal competes in a men's event. Annika Sörenstam heard it when she played in the Bank of America Colonial golf tourney back in aught-three. Michelle Wie heard it every time she finished 11-over-par in whichever Open had turned her into a sideshow that week. Danica Patrick heard it when she started racing IndyCar, and then, despite having won an IndyCar event, heard it again when she announced her plans to race stock cars. And man did David Stern hear it when he suggested that women might someday play in the NBA. Because really, that's just silly.
Considering Kulick had never finished especially high in a men's tourney prior to Sunday's coup, it's safe to assume she's heard it, too. She's no doubt legit for now, but should she not continue to win, she's sure to hear it again. As Danica has proven, male athletes can be a when-have-you-beaten-me-lately bunch. And if the answer isn't "this instant" or "that one time after I got fired from my job as an autoworker," well then, frankly, you've got some nerve.
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